While I’ve been excited to read this book since it came out a year ago, it was only recently that I was finally able to snag a copy from my library. This is probably because of the book’s myriad awards, and because it’s good. The timing works out pretty nicely, though, as this is a great read for Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day (which is tomorrow, at the time I write this).
I have to admit that I didn’t fully understand the title until I finished the entire book. Yes, it’s about Milicent Patrick, the woman who designed Gill Man from the classic horror film The Creature from the Black Lagoon. She never got the credit she deserved in Hollywood history until recently. That’s part of the story: Patrick was the lady from the black lagoon and Gill Man is the monster. It’s also about the other kind of Hollywood monsters, the Harvey Weinsteins, the limos full of unnamed guys, and other obstacles keeping women and marginalized people away from doing what they love in Hollywood and elsewhere. Finally, it’s about author Mallory O’Meara’s own Hollywood experience as a genre film producer.
O’Meara manages to weave together all of these stories, as well as a lot of California history, with ease. I’m sure working as a producer helps her juggle the myriad aspects of the book and somehow make them work. Her writing could perhaps best be described as conversational. It’s almost as if she is informally sitting down with you and explaining her own journey with discovering the horror genre, finding her way out to Hollywood, figuring out how to research a book, and evolving as a person as she learned about the ever-evolving Milicent Patrick.
While I did think this was a fun and also thought-provoking read, I’m most looking forward to reading what Patrick writes next. I think that if she chooses to write another book her writing style will have evolved into something even more powerful. Definitely someone to watch!